Boing Boing 

This Phone is Tapped


25 "This Phone is Tapped" USAPATRIOT stickers for $5.50, suitable for prominent placement on the phones in your life. Link Discuss (via JWZ's LiveJournal)

Googlebox saves San Diego

Google is a private company and is notoriously closed-mouth about its revenue sources. We know that some of the money comes from partnership deals, and that some of it comes from Google "appliances" for searching private networks, but it's rare to actually get information on what actual customers pay for the service and why Google's pitch is attractive. The city of San Diego recently dropped $23,000 on a Googlebox that has completely changed the way that city employees and residents interact with each other. The interesting thing for me is that the competition here proposed a much more expensive "solution" that involved creating an explicit taxonomy and then manually tagging all the city's docs within it. In other words, the competition's pitch is, "First, tell us everything you have, then we'll tell you what you've got." No wonder Google's kicking ass in the market.
Bill Cull, the city's E-government program manager, says that because city officials were so familiar with Google, it was hard to ignore the vendor's pitch. It also didn't hurt that it was being offered a special price as a public entity. The city opted for a single Google server with a license to search an index of up to 150,000 documents. The result has been a welcome improvement for the city's 8,000 computer-equipped employees and its nearly 250,000 unique monthly site visitors: Cull says employees are using stuff they didn't know existed, and citizens are sending E-mail about the search success they're having.
Link Discuss (via EvHead)

Human front-side-bus-multiplier discovered

Purdue researchers have isolated the protein that controls the body's clock -- by fuxoring with it, they hypothesise that they can induce "days" that are longer or shorter than 24h in humans and other organisms.
To confirm that the protein was responsible not just for regulating growth but for all activities set by the biological clock, Pin-Ju Chueh, then a microbiology graduate student in Dorothy Morre's lab, isolated the gene which produced the protein within cells. The team then cloned the protein and altered it in ways that produced different period lengths.

"We found that we could produce clocks with cycles of between 22 and 42 minutes," James Morre said. "The 'day' which the cell experienced was precisely 60 times the period length of the protein's cycle. We even found that feeding cells heavy water gave them a 27-minute cycle of growth and rest, so that old piece of information served to confirm our theory."

Link Discuss (via Schism Matrix)

Live from the Blogosphere in LA Feb 15

If you live in Los Angeles, you are invited to a panel discussion about weblogs, moderated by Xeni. I'll be on the panel, along with Evan Williams, the creator of Blogger, Susannah Breslin of the Reverse Cowgirl Blog, Doc Searls of Linux Journal, Tony Pierce of Busblog, and Heather Havrelisky of Rabbit Blog. For time and location, read this press release: Link Discuss

Powers of Ten squared

This Java app recreates the Powers of Ten movie on an even grander scale, beginning with the galaxy and zooming down to an invidual quark, with stops on the way at the Milky Way, Earth, Florida, an oak tree, a leaf, DNA, and an individual carbon atom Link Discuss (Thanks, Dav!)

Jim Carrey as Lemony Snicket's "Count Olaf?"

Rumor has it that Jim Carrey will play Count Olaf in the film adaptation of the Lemony Snicket books that's being shot next summer. Link Discuss (via Exciting Monkeybum Stories for Boys and Girls)

Whuffie for hackers

Good SmartMobs story on Affero, a reputation system for hackers, and the ways in which it parallels Whuffie:
One of the critical uncertainties about the future of smart mobs is whether or not workable, transportable, trustworthy reputation systems will evolve and spread. The potential for collective action in any population cannot be realized until the trust level rises above a threshold, and reputation can multiply the number of ways people trust each other. So far, eBay's and Slashdot's reputation system , or the more geeky trust metric used by Advogato have been the exemplars of reputation management systems.

Affero is a new wrinkle, one that holds some promise. Specifically created to "facilitate funding for Free Software and Open Source projects and to facilitate more effective dialogue among groups", Affero works for Usenet or listservs or message boards." You register and get a URL you can put in your .sig or on a web page. People who like your posts or feel you have contributed your time and expertise to helping them with a technical problem can click on your URL and give you reputation points or contribute money (via credit card and soon via PayPal) to your chosen cause, or to the community's default cause, or all three. Organizations like the Free Software Foundation and Electronic Frontier Foundation are popular beneficiaries.

Link Discuss (Thanks, Howard!)

Free Networks summit in Vegas

Schuyler sez:
The FreeNetworks Conference (FN-CON) 2003 is focused on giving the public an in-depth look into the the fast growing worldwide movement of Community Wireless Networking (CWN).

FN-CON aims to gather the experts and implementors in community wireless networking groups from across the globe, innovators from the wired community and municipal networks, and the technologists designing the hardware for future phases of this amazing movement.

The conference will combine overviews of the technologies and motivations, status reports from the frontline, and in-depth coverage of implementation details that provide the conference attendee with the knowledge to bootstrap a CWN in their own locale.

Link Discuss (Thanks, Schuyler!)

Interview with kidnapped Adventure journalist

World's Most Dangerous Places author Robert Young Pelton describes his ten day ordeal as a captive of a right-wing paramilitary group in the Panamanian jungle.
Do you feel lucky that you came out of it alive?

It's not really luck. You're in a certain mindset when you're kidnapped. You want to win the respect of your captors, so they drop their guard. You want to make sure that you're always aware of what's going on. And you want to make sure that, should the moment arrive, you can escape. Because you are being held by people who chop up people with machetes. These are not boy scouts.

Link NatGeo Discuss

Laptop desk

For the last few months, I've been using a folding contraption called the Laptop Desk with my iBook. I fold it in half to elevate my iBook when I use it at my desk, and unfold it and set it in my lap when I use my iBook on the couch for long periods of time (so I don't cook my thighs). I really like it, but I don't think I'd want to pack it in my luggage (even though it would easily fit in my iBook case) because I don't need the additional 1 pound, 6 ounces. But for home use, it's excellent. Link Discuss

George Saunders New Yorker adbusters story

George "Civilwarland in Bad Decline" Saunders's latest sf story in the New Yorker is about kids who are raised as captive focus groups, with ads screened directly inside their heads.
Because I for one wanted to do right, I did not want to sneak through that gap, I wanted to wed someone when old enough (I will soon tell who) and relocate to the appropriate facility in terms of demographics, namely Young Marrieds, such as Scranton, PA, or Mobile, AL, and then along comes Josh doing Ruthie with imperity, and no one is punished, and soon the miracle of birth results and all our Coördinators, even Mr. Delacourt, are bringing Baby Amber stuffed animals? At which point every cell or chromosome or whatever it was in my gonads that had been holding their breaths was suddenly like, Dude, slide through that gap no matter how bad it hurts, squat outside Carolyn's Privacy Tarp whispering, Carolyn, it's me, please un-Velcro your Privacy opening!

Then came the final straw that broke the back of my saying no to my gonads, which was I dreamed I was that black dude on MTV's "Hot and Spicy Christmas" (around like Location Indicator 34412, if you want to check it out) and Carolyn was the oiled-up white chick, and we were trying to earn the Island Vacation by miming through the ten Hot 'n' Nasty Positions before the end of "We Three Kings," only then, sadly, during Her on Top, Thumb in Mouth, her Elf Cap fell off, and as the Loser Buzzer sounded she bent low to me, saying, Oh, Jon, I wish we did not have to do this for fake in front of hundreds of kids on Spring Break doing the wave but instead could do it for real with just each other in private.

And then she kissed me with a kiss I can only describe as melting.

Link Discuss (Thanks, Aaron!)

Spike retires from OJR after five years

After five years of writing for Online Journalism Review, Gideon "Spike" Brower is calling it quits. His last column includes a bunch of his favorite Internet stuff. So long, Spike! Link Discuss (Thanks, Spike!)

Japan's Napster losing in court

"File Rouge," Japan's answer to Napster, has had a devastating judgement against it, and damages to the Japanese recording industry associations could exceed 400 million Yen ($3,382,924.81). Original Japanese link Babelfish translated link Discuss (Thanks, Yuichi!)

eThrombosis: Computers give you embolisms

Kiwi scientists warn of "eThrombosis" -- veinous thromboses brought on by sitting on your ass in front of a computer all the damned time.
This is the first reported case of an association between prolonged immobility at a computer and a life-threatening embolism, says the researchers, who suggest the condition should be called "eThrombosis". However, some scientists are likely to question the link.
Link Discuss

Model Rocket Inflight Video Camera link via 2.4GHz Microwave

K-rad video clips of a model rocket flight transmitted live to a ground station via 2.4GHz microwave. Site offers videos in QT, WMV formats. Link Discuss (Thanks, Adam!)

Disneyland crafts projects

At-Home Imagineering is Martha-Stewart-grade crafts and cooking project that results in tchotchkes and nosh inspired by the rides and menus of Disnelyland. Link Discuss (Thanks, Bill!)

Unified theory of calculus

Dr. Martin Bohner, a math prof at University of Missouri-Rolla, has published new advances in Calculus that are being characterized as a "unified theory of calculus."
Bohner's paper had the highest percentage increase in citations in ISI Essential Science Indicators in the field of mathematics from the second to third bimonthly periods of 2002.

"This paper is part of a fairly new and exciting effort to unify continuous and discrete calculus," says Bohner. "Dynamic equations on time scales have been introduced in order to unify the theories of differential equations and of difference equations and in order to extend those theories to other kinds of so-called 'dynamic equations.'"

Link Discuss

German potato bazookas to be regulated

German kids have a new zip-gun: the potato-bazooka. Made by duct-taping one end of a pipe, and then loading it with hairspray and a potato, the gun is fired by touching off the harispray and blowing the potato forward at great speed:
With a range of 200 metres they could split a man’s head at 15 metres and penetrate a wooden wall at 90 metres.

The guns are not governed by the usual strict firearms regulations in Germany, but prosecutors in the republic’s 16 states are passing emergency rulings to try to outlaw them.

Times Online Link Discuss (via /.)

Mental Green: ad-free-zones

Mental Green is a neat idea -- raise money through donations to buy up ad-space and then put nothing on it, forming a kind of greenspace without any mental bombardment. Unfortunately, the site to promote it is so gratuitously overdesigned (splashscreen, nonsensical frames, pull-down menu navigation, popup windows... you get the picture) that it's nearly impossible to figure out what they're up to.

Update: Turns out that this site is run by a marketing company. As Pesco sez, "Altruistic irony or a great PR stunt. You be the judge." Link Discuss (Thanks, Dean!)

Strip Mall Convergence -- net-art-film

Peter Baldes's net-art site has a bunch of great little art-vids, but none so cool as this Strip Mall Convergence QuickTime, which is violently cognitively dissonant. In a good way. Link Discuss

Radio interview about my novel!

I did an Internet radio interview about Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom, with a program called "The Dragon Page." It airs Thursday -- check it out! Link Discuss (Thanks, Evo!)

Perfect pitch defeats auto-racing cheaters

Fantastic anaecdote about a music professor/Formula One car (thanks, QrazyQat) racer whose perfect pitch let him detect cheaters by listening to their engines:
I also used to tell my competitors what gear ratios they were running by comparing their cars' pitch with mine when we were adjacent on the track, identifying the musical interval between the two pitches (minor 2nd, Major 3rd, etc.), and then using temperament ratios to figure out the difference in RPM. It got a little busy out there sometimes with all the braking, cornering, multiplication and division.

I had the usual suspects memorized. Piece of cake - a major second is 9/8, major 3rd is 5/4, P4 = 4/3, P5 = 3/2 etc. For minor intervals I'd just interpolate from the nearest major/perfect.

Link Discuss (Thanks, Jeremy!)

Finnish recording industry demands royalties for kindergarten singing

The Finnish recording industry is demanding that kindergartens pay 20 Euros per month in royalties for songs sung by the children. Link Discuss

Kid in car crash thrown 25 feet in air, hangs onto power lines until saved

"A teenager was catapulted at least 25 feet in the air during an auto accident but grabbed onto overhead utility wires like an action hero and dangled for about 20 minutes before a rescue crew brought him down by ladder." (With video). Link Discuss

Got a guitar and an oscilloscope? Here's $50

If you have a guitar and an oscilloscope capable of saving waveforms as digital files (that are emailable), and want to earn a quick $50, email me: mark@well.com. (It's for a short article I'm writing.) Discuss

Verizon still drinking 1991's Kool-Aid

From Kevin Werbach's blog:
Link Hoewing of Verizon had an op-ed in the Boston Globe last weekend about broadband. This line stopped me: "Step back, and you can see the United States is recasting the Internet as a genuine multimedia platform...." It was meant as a positive statement of what could happen if the FCC further deregulates the Bells. Instead, it epitomizes what so many companies don't understand about the Net. They have never stopped yearning for the walled gardens of video dialtone or proprietary videotext services. If the broadband Net is turned into "multimedia", it will die the same death as all previous iterations of that vision.
Link Discuss

Category Management: retail trendiness or criminal anti-trust?

"Category Management" is the sexy trend for today's mega-retailers. It involves asking one vendor to take over a section of your store and decide what you'll stock there, so that the vendor not only chooses which of its products you'll stock, but which of its comptetitors' products you'll stock.
Welcome to the world of "category management," a bizarre and controversial place in which the nation's biggest retailers ask one supplier in a category to figure out how best to stock their shelves. You'd expect HarperCollins to tell Borders which of its own books are hot, of course. But that's not what's going on here. Borders has essentially tapped Harper to advise it on what cookbooks to carry from all other publishers as well.

Strange as it may sound, category management is now standard practice at nearly every U.S. supermarket, convenience store, mass merchant, and drug chain. And its use is growing because it works -- at least from a dollars-and-cents standpoint. According to a recent survey by retail consultancy Cannondale Associates, retailers attribute 14 percent sales growth to category management; manufacturers report an 8 percent jump. Both say such collaboration is the key to maximum efficiency.

Link Discuss (Thanks, Tom!)

Wired's Chris Anderson at Davos

Chris Anderson, Wired's editor, is writing dispatches from Davos for Slate. They're great!
When it comes to thinking about how to regulate the science, the best test may be the "yuck factor." This is, as you might imagine, a pretty squishy concept, something along the lines of using gut reaction as a proxy for a long and unproductive philosophical debate.... Dr. Baltimore bravely soldiered on, noting that yuck changes with age and generations; teenagers aren't freaked out by the things their parents are. Indeed, yuck is as much learned as innate: An audience member cheerily volunteered that a 1-year-old will drink apple juice -- which is urine-colored -- out of a bedpan without complaint. Good point: Perhaps this is not the stuff laws should be made of.
Link Discuss

Fatal nut allergy contracted through liver-transplant

A man who received a liver transplant from someone with a terrible nut-allergy became allergic to nuts.
The 60-year-old man, who had no history of nut allergy, suffered an anaphylactic reaction to a cashew nut just 25 days after he received the liver transplant. The 15-year-old boy did have the allergy and had died after eating a peanut.
Link Discuss

"Dancing Bug" cartoon covers Eldred decision

"Tom the Dancing Bug" just did a particularly funny take on the recent Supreme court decision, here. Discuss